Stéphane Humbert Lucas 777 Black Gemstone: Black (Gold) Beauty

Source: wall321.com

Source: wall321.com

Love at first sniff. Black Gemstone is an opulently ambered, spicy, woody-incense fragrance from Stéphane Humbert Lucas that caught my attention from the very first time I tried it. Mysterious woods, black frankincense and tart lemons curds, thick velvet and sticky amber — those disparate images are only one part of the complex tale created by one of the chic-est, most polished, most intriguing orientals that I’ve tried in a while.

"Shades of Caramel Abstract" by David Naman. Source: Fine Art America. (Website link embedded within.)

“Shades of Caramel Abstract” by David Naman. Source: Fine Art America. (Website link embedded within.)

I’m not sure where to start in trying to summarize Black Gemstone. Should it be the well-oiled woods drizzled with honey and saffron? The way the perfume changes shape each time, or how it tantalizes you with little tendrils of notes that are never quite what they seem? Should I talk about how its darkness turns to a sensual warmth that envelops you like velvet on satin skin? Or how its surface simplicity dissolves upon closer inspection into layer upon finely calibrated layer — all like tiny detailed brushstrokes of enameled lacquer on an ornate golden heart of patchouli and amber?

I don’t know where to begin, in part because Black Gemstone feels truly mysterious on some levels — and not simply because the perfume changes on my skin from one spot to the next, or from wearing to wearing. I don’t find many fragrances to evoke a sense of mystery, let alone darkness, but, somehow, the opening of Black Gemstone does. And, as a whole, it is one of the chic-est damn things I’ve tried in ages.

Stéphane Humbert Lucas, via SHL FB, used with permission.

Stéphane Humbert Lucas, via SHL FB, used with permission.

Black Gemstone is a 2013 parfum extrait from Stéphane Humbert Lucas 777 (hereinafter just referred to as “SHL 777” or “777“). All the perfumes are created by Monsieur Lucas, who used to be the in-house perfumer for SoOud and Nez à Nez. Up to now, the 777 line was exclusive to Europe, Russia, and Middle Eastern, but there is excellent news.

The complete SHL 777 line should be coming to America in a few days, including the stunning amber monster, O Hira, that was previously contractually limited to Harrods and to Printemps, and the 2013 iris-amber-heliotrope Khol de Bahrein. The new 2014 releases should also be available, such as the highly original cherry-latex-almond-cedar-oud Qom Chilom, the immortelle gourmand Une Nuit à Doha, and the Cambodian oud, smoke and leather, Oud 777. The scents will be exclusive to Luckyscent and Osswald NYC. I have samples of the line, thanks to the generosity and kindness of Monsieur Lucas, and Black Gemstone is the second to last in my series. (I’m only missing Rose de Petra, so Soleil de Jeddah will be the last.)

Black Gemstone. Photo and source: Stéphane Humbert Lucas.

Black Gemstone. Photo and source: Stéphane Humbert Lucas.

Black Gemstone is a pure parfum that is described in the press materials provided to me as follows:

Tribute to the Black Stone
Brewed essence, tender as clay,
petrified, blackened.

Infusion of three Cedars – Lemon
Myrrh tar
Incense [Olibanum] – Teak – Tonka.

As with other SHL 777 fragrances, the official list seems to be merely a nutshell synopsis. I detected far more emanating from my skin, from honey and labdanum amber, to sweet myrrh/opoponax and woody-leathered undertones. So I sent off yet another pestering email to poor Monsieur Lucas to ask what else was actually included in Black Gemstone. I’m always grateful for his time, patience, and forthright openness, but I was especially relieved this time because, by the time I got his reply, I was pretty sure I was wafting eucalyptus, saffron and patchouli as well. You don’t know how crazy you start to feel when you smell things a galaxy away from what’s on an official note list. (I mean, eucalyptus, for heaven’s sake!)

The actual note list for Black Gemstone turns out to be:

Italian lemon, 3 types of cedar, frankincense (olibanum), myrrh, sweet myrrh (opoponax), patchouli, cistus labdanum amber, teak wood, birch wood, saffron, basil, a camphor accord (eucalyptus and rosemary), and tonka.

Source: Stéphane Humbert Lucas.

Source: Stéphane Humbert Lucas.

Black Gemstone opens on my skin with beautiful honey and deep, concentrated tart lemon over dark, smoky woods. There is a noticeable leather undertone and a strongly balsamic base, along with almost a black tea-like smokiness, all of which are lovely. The woods are dark and blackened, but not singed or burnt. Rather, they’re sweetened and musky, then drenched with an incredibly real lemon note.

Photo: bravetart.com

Photo: bravetart.com

The latter was the star of the opening act on my skin in quite a few tests that I did. It has the perfect balance of a tart, tangy Meyer’s lemon, a type of lemon that does not have strong acidity. This is no crisp, zesty, or chilled citric note. It’s also far from thin. Instead, there is a very heavy, sun-ripened juiciness that has been concentrated into something almost akin to unsugared lemon curd in its beautiful, tart depths. I cannot get over the lemon note in Black Gemstone, really I can’t. And I’m not one who ever gushes about citruses in fragrances.

I think one reason why there is such a full-bodied richness and fruited heaviness is that the lemon has been subtly amplified by patchouli. It’s the syrupy, fruited patchouli that I normally loathe so much, but it’s managed with incredible finesse here. Never gooey or overly sweet, and only occasionally like jammy, purple molasses, the patchouli here has been refined to add just a touch of concentrated richness to the lemon without ever detracting from the citric focus. The result would almost feel photo-realistic, except this lemon has been shot through with walloping amounts of black smoke in a way that I haven’t previously encountered.

black-smoke-image_WideThat smoke is definitely the second star of Black Gemstone’s opening on my skin. The frankincense is beautiful and perfectly balanced, never too muffled but also never really overpowering or aggressive. Strong tendrils seep out to weave and wrap themselves around you, leaving trails in the air behind you as you move. The smoke is sometimes sharp in its intensity, but, yet, oddly soft and delicate at the same time. There is no grey dustiness or chilliness here; this smoke is warm from the honey and lemons.

Photo by Daniel Fox. Source: petapixel.com.  (Website link embedded within.)

Photo by Daniel Fox. Source: petapixel.com. (Website link embedded within.)

While the lemon and frankincense waltz on center stage, other elements quietly weave in and out. The note list says myrrh “tar,” and it does feel a little like a blackened accord, thanks to the copious amounts of a sticky balsamic resin that turns the smoke slightly sweet. There is also an occasional touch of opoponax or sweet myrrh that adds a nutty warmth, but it is very fleeting. Much more noticeable is the resinous base. The labdanum doesn’t smell ambered or golden at this point, but reflects instead a darkness that impacts all the other notes. At times, it has a subtle tobacco tonality, but, most of the time, it merely adds a feeling of something leathery and thick.

Photo: My own.

Photo: My own.

From afar, Black Gemstone is a beautiful mix of smoky lemony and incense, drizzled with honey and cocooned amidst musky woods, all atop a very balsamic, leathery base. Up close, the mix is absolutely addictive, constantly drawing me in with its richness. It mesmerizes the analytical part of my mind, often because the notes are fused so thoroughly together that it’s hard to know where one starts and the other ends.

In fact, it’s extremely hard to tease out many of the notes in Black Gemstone because it’s a beautifully blended fragrance. I found it almost impossible to know the source for many of the things that I detected. Not only do the individual elements flow seamlessly one to the next, but so many of them complement and share common characteristics. Does the honey derive from the labdanum or the sweet myrrh? Is the subtle tobacco-like tonality that dances at the edges a result of the patchouli, the labdanum, or something else? Same question for the leather undertone. I have no answers at all.

Mark Rothko, "Untitled (Violet, Black, Orange, Yellow on White and Red)," 1949.

Mark Rothko, “Untitled” 1949.

The perfume is so incredibly blended that it never actually opened the exact same way twice on my skin on any of the 3 occasions when I wore it. On my usual testing arm, Black Gemstone always opened with a bouquet dominated by incense and some fluctuating level of lemon curd, but that was the only consistent aspect because all the other notes varied. On one occasion, the main duo was heavily dusted by spicy saffron from the very start, then trailed by honey and a jammy, fruited, almost raspberry-ish patchouli over a soft base of warm amber.

Source: wallpoper.com

Source: wallpoper.com

Another time, Black Gemstone’s opening was drier, woodier, and much smokier. This time, the incense-lemon accord was cocooned in musky cedar with a touch of creamy beeswax from the sweet myrrh. The frankincense felt even stronger than usual, and the cedar was much more prominent than on any prior occasion. In contrast, the amber and the saffron were weaker, taking much longer to rise up from the base. The jammy patchouli was also less evident, but the woodier, red-brown, spicy patchouli flickered in and out from the start.

Source: publicdomainpictures.net

Source: publicdomainpictures.net

However, on my non-testing arm, it was a different story entirely. Black Gemstone opened with patchouli, saffron, camphor, lemon curd, musky woods, cedar, amber, tobacco tonalities and incense. The patchouli and saffron combination far outweighed the frankincense lemon curd. The perfume felt sweeter and richer, with more overt spices and a flickering touch of eucalyptus camphor right from the start. To my surprise, the patchouli felt simultaneously like the fruited, jammy kind and the more traditional, usual patchouli that I love with its red-brown spiciness, tobacco woodiness, and a touch of mentholated green. I can’t remember the last time I encountered a perfume where both versions of patchouli were present side-by-side at the same time. All I can say is that there is serious skill and technical wizardry involved in all of this.

In short, Black Gemstone is what I call a “prismatic” scent. It throws off different facets each time you wear it, the way light hitting a crystal chandelier will reflect different rays of colours. Prismatic scents can often seem linear in nature, because the seamless blending of notes reveals the different nuances very subtly. I believe Luca Turin calls these sorts of fragrances “circular” because the notes often come around hours later again in a full circle, and that happens here with Black Gemstone, as well. It makes it hard for me to give you the usual breakdown or analysis, especially once the perfume transitions into its second stage, because there is never one set story.

Still, I’ll try to describe what happens in one of the tests, the one with which I began this review. After 15 minutes, Black Gemstone starts to shift, particularly in terms of the wooded accord. It grows far stronger, and feels simultaneously dry but creamy. Initially, it doesn’t smell of cedar at all. It’s not peppered or dusty the way some cedar can be. Nor does it smell of pencil shavings.

Cedar. Photo: Brett Stewart, with permission. Source: http://instagram.com/bstewart23

Cedar. Photo: Brett Stewart, with permission. Source: http://instagram.com/bstewart23

Instead, the wood is turning beautifully creamy in a way that feels very unusual for cedar. Perhaps it is from the sweet myrrh, which can often reflect a creamy beeswax tonality. Or, perhaps it is the teak which is responsible? I must confess, I have no idea what teak smells like, and Fragrantica only says it is a “fantasy note” that is polished, light and “blond.” I don’t know what that means. All I can say is that the wood here in Black Gemstone feels infused with frankincense, myrrh, the concentrated lemon curd, and that mysterious creaminess. Even better, there is a distinct earthiness and muskiness to it, though it is very hard to describe or explain.

Source: footage.shutterstock.com

Source: footage.shutterstock.com

The whole thing feels heavily oiled, smoky, sweet, darkened, and smooth. The honey that was drizzled all over fades after 20 minutes as a distinct, individual note, though a definite sweetness remains. Everything about Black Gemstone feels concentrated and rich, evoking the brightest yellow shot through with endless smoke and blackness. It is a ball of brightness in a dark forest where all the trees have been oiled to a smooth, polished finish. None of it smells like furniture polish, by the way. It’s more like a photo-realistic, tart lemon concentrate, reduced down to a thick treacle, then shot through with incense and dry, earthy, musky woods.

Black Gemstone continues to shift and evolve. About 30 minutes in, the cedar finally begins to smell more like its usual self. The first hints of saffron appear, but this isn’t the usual sort of saffron either. It’s not fiery, dusty, buttered, or even particularly spicy at first. Instead, it’s more like a woody saffron that has been refined to add mere warmth. Sometimes, it feels more like a subset of the labdanum, or a figment of my imagination. Yet, in other tests, the spice was noticeable from the start and smelled more like actual saffron.

I’m struggling to explain all this, and I know I’m being somewhat unclear, but I find Black Gemstone extremely hard to describe. There are two reasons why. First, on my skin, many of the notes in the perfume are quite subtle at times. Second, they’ve been highly refined to the point that they don’t always smell the way that I’m used to. Monsieur Lucas told me in one of his emails that he worked extremely hard with the quantities, to add just “tiny doses” and ensure that the many elements were all calibrated against each other. Yet, he also used extremely expensive, high-quality ingredients whose normally bold nature has been smoothed out. The overall effect of both things is to create notes that are simultaneously very refined and quite elusive at times, leading you to wonder just what you’re sniffing. On other occasions, however, the exact same note was less mysterious, like the time that the eucalyptus was evident from the start instead of being such a tantalizing whisper in the background.

Roughly 90 minutes into Black Gemstone’s development, the second stage arrives and it is essentially the same each time, in all my versions. The details and small nuances may vary from one test to another, but the broad brushstrokes are generally consistent. For the most part, Black Gemstone transitions into a markedly different perfume from that which appeared at the start.

Photo by Daniel Fox. Source: petapixel.com . http://petapixel.com/2013/05/25/photographer-captures-abstract-photos-showing-lava-up-close/

Photo by Daniel Fox. Source: petapixel.com . http://petapixel.com/2013/05/25/photographer-captures-abstract-photos-showing-lava-up-close/

Now, Black Gemstone is not dominated by tart, concentrated lemon curd with incense, but by more golden elements led first by the amber and incense, then, hours later, by patchouli-amber. As the lemon slowly softens and fades away, the labdanum rises from the base, the incense turns up another notch, the myrrh becomes stronger, and the brown patchouli finally wakes up in the base. Saffron is sprinkled over everything, while little hints of beeswax dart about. The musky woods feel more amorphous than cedar-y, and seem creamier than ever. As a whole, Black Gemstone feels deeper, softer, and richer, though the sillage lessens a little. The visuals of yellow with black have changed to amber, gold, bronze, brown and cream.

Source: ebay.uk.

Source: ebay.uk.

Black Gemstone’s greatest characteristic for me at this point would be ambered velvet. If textures could be actual notes, then “velvet” should be part of the perfume’s pyramid, because it feels as much a part of Black Gemstone’s identity as the tendrils of black incense or the earthy, musky woods. There is a smooth richness to the scent that is wonderfully luxurious and feels almost like thickened, creamy brocade. Monsieur Lucas attributes a lot of it to the tonka, but I’m used to tonka that is either powdery, purely vanillic, creamy vanilla, or some combination of both. I’ve never experienced tonka as creamy velvet amber.

It all feels very elegant, polished, and chic, but there is also something soothing and serene about Black Gemstone. It’s as though you’re in a palatial room padded with thick velvet that drowns out all the frenetic noise around you. You lie on a bed made out of cedar and patchouli, on sheets of honeyed, fragrant beeswax, under a thick blanket of dark velvet shot through with ambered gold and saffron, as clouds of black incense circulate in the air all around you. It’s meditative, zen, and comforting all at once.

Source: wallpaperup.com

Source: wallpaperup.com

Black Gemstone continues to shift, but only by tiny, incremental degrees. The lemon fades away entirely at the 2.5 hour mark. An hour later, the cedar retreats to the background, and the woods turn more abstract. The tonka starts to stir more noticeably in the base, adding the faintest touch of powder to the scent and even more of the creaminess mentioned above. The myrrh and sweet myrrh work in tandem with the frankincense, adding more smoke to the scent, but the sharpness is offset by the surging tides of amber that roll over everything. Meanwhile, the brown-red patchouli grows stronger. I’m a complete “patch head,” so I’m over the moon at its prominence and spicy richness. Occasional touches of camphor and eucalyptus dart about, but the patchouli is primarily one more layer of golden warmth.

Source: wallpaperswa.com

Source: wallpaperswa.com

At the end of 9 hours, Black Gemstone is a blend of sweet, spicy, nutty, vaguely honeyed, woody notes, lightly flecked with incense in a thick cocoon of velvet amber. The primary bouquet is centered on patchouli-amber, trailed by the incense. The patchouli occasionally has a powerful streak of eucalyptus. Sometime, there is a subtle booziness as well. Saffron, tonka and an amorphous, warm woodiness dart about in the background, adding to the richness of the scent. There is no real powder, no vanilla, just layer upon layer of goldenness upon a deep base that feels like the darkest resins have turned to satin.

At the start of the 12th hour, Black Gemstone is a warm blur of patchouli amber. If you smell up close and really focus, you can just barely single out the tonka, saffron, cedar, and eucalyptus, but they’re increasingly minor and muted. In its final moments, Black Gemstone is merely a silky whisper of golden warmth with a vaguely woody character.

All in all, Black Gemstone consistently lasted well over 14 hours on my perfume consuming skin. With 2 decent spritzes from my atomizer, amounting to one very good spray from an actual bottle, the perfume lasted just under 15 hours. Really, about 14.75. The sillage was initially large, hovering about 4 inches above the skin. That number dropped after 90 minutes to about 2 inches above the skin, then one inch at the 3.75 hour mark. There, Black Gemstone remained for ages, turning into a skin scent only at the end of the 8th hour.

Source: hqwide.com

Source: hqwide.com

The numbers were even better with 3 big spritzes, amounting to 2 sprays from a proper bottle. The longevity was just short of 17 hours. Black Gemstone initially wafted about 5 inches off my skin, but it left a definite trail behind me. On one occasion, I had dinner with my parents about an hour after applying Black Gemstone, and was told that they could smell the fragrance in two rooms that I had been either standing in or walking through. In all cases, however, and regardless of amount, Black Gemstone’s sillage averages out to about 2 inches above the skin when you consider the 14 to 16 hours as a whole.

As a point of comparison, that’s pretty much how most Profumum Roma scents are on my skin as well. In fact, Black Gemstone actually feels a lot like a Profumum scent with its heavy, concentrated nature and great longevity. Both brands put out fragrances that are extraits or pure parfums in concentration, so it’s not really a surprise. In the case of Black Gemstone, it has 24% concentration, just like its other siblings in the SHL 777 line.

On a personal level, I have to say that this has been one of the most difficult reviews I’ve written in a while. Despite the hundreds of words that I’ve written, I can’t shake the feeling that I haven’t actually described the perfume at all. I can summarize it up in a nutshell as a lemon-incense fragrance with dry woods that later turns into incense-patchouli-amber, but that doesn’t seem to convey the full extent of Black Gemstone’s complexity on my skin or its feel. Emphasizing the smoky incense and woodiness would be misleading, just as it would be if I focused on the golden warmth which later appears.

George Seurat, "The Seine and la Grande Jatte - Springtime 1888, Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium. Source: Wikipedia.

George Seurat, “The Seine and la Grande Jatte” – Springtime 1888, Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium. Source: Wikipedia.

All of these things are just one piece of the puzzle, a puzzle that seems extremely simple on the outside. In fact, some of you may sniff Black Gemstone and wonder what on earth I’m talking about, because the details are often like tiny brushstrokes. For me, Black Gemstone feels like one of the paintings from the famous Pointillist painter, George Seurat, where you have to look extremely close in order to see that the seemingly simple image is actually created from thousands of tiny dots.

In the same way that my words feel inadequate, so is the imagery. I generally try to use photos as a symbolic, visual representations, and, yet, none of them seem to really capture the full picture. They certainly don’t convey some of the impressions in my head for how the perfume feels to me, or the men and women who represent its different facets. So, I’m giving in to frustration and going to subject you to a visual display that may explain some of it.

Symbolically, Black Gemstone sometimes translates in my head from this:

Drottningholm Palace, Sweden. Photo: CubeFarmEscape at http://cubefarmescape.com/2011/06/pick-a-palace-or-two/

Drottningholm Palace, Sweden. Photo: CubeFarmEscape at http://cubefarmescape.com/2011/06/pick-a-palace-or-two/

to this:

Photo: Lorraine Eaton. Source: hamptonroads.com

Photo: Lorraine Eaton. Source: hamptonroads.com

But also this:

Photo: Mert & Marcus from their video for Madonna, "Girl gone wild." Source: kontraplan.com

Photo: Mert & Marcus from their video for Madonna, “Girl gone wild.” Source: kontraplan.com

to this:

Source: imgfave.com. Artist or creator unknown.

Source: imgfave.com. Artist or creator unknown.

At the same time, however, Black Gemstone can also feel like this:

Source: wallpaperup.com

Source: wallpaperup.com

leading to this:

Source: darkroom.baltimoresun.com

Source: darkroom.baltimoresun.com

before ending up as this:

Photo: Hawkea. Source: hawkea.blogspot.com

Photo: Hawkea. Source: hawkea.blogspot.com

And all of this is worn by him:

Model David Gandy via fashionbeans.com

Model David Gandy via fashionbeans.com

and her:

Bianca Balti for Dolce & Gabbana. Source: stylesnooperdan

Bianca Balti for Dolce & Gabbana. Source: stylesnooperdan

At least, that is how Black Gemstone appears in my head. I wish I could tell you how others see it, but I could not find any comparative reviews to show you. On Fragrantica, Black Gemstone’s entry page has no comments at this time. In fact, until yesterday, the perfume was not widely available outside of Harrods and Paris’ Printemps. Germany’s First in Fragrance just received Black Gemstone, along with the new 2014 releases. As noted at the start of this post, the complete SHL 777 line will be released in the U.S. at the start of May.

In Europe, Black Gemstone’s retail price is €235 for a 50 ml bottle of pure parfum. I don’t have the official American pricing rate, but, at today’s rate of exchange, that comes to roughly $325. However, I know from prior experiences with European exclusives that the eventual U.S. price is always much less than the conversion amount. So, I estimate the perfume will probably be in the $290 range, though that is purely a personal guess.

For me, Black Gemstone is worth every penny, and it is high on my wish list right next to the magnificent O Hira, the Incredible Hulk of ambers. The latter is far too expensive to be anything more than a dream for me, but Black Gemstone will be mine. The quality, luxuriousness, projection, and sillage are all there, but more importantly, the perfume moves me. As all these photos should demonstrate, it tells me lots of very different stories throughout its long tenure. It took me places, was intellectually interesting, and had multi-layered complexity that showed great technical skill by the perfumer. So much complexity, in fact, that Black Gemstone was often several perfumes in one on my skin.

Even within the same journey, I found Black Gemstone to be contemplative and meditative, but also darkly sultry and sexy, before ending up as comforting, relaxing warmth. I found all of it addictive, from start to finish, and compulsively sniffable. Is it the most objectively unique and original fragrance? No, because at the end of the day, it is still an incense-woody-amber scent. (In contrast, SHL 777’s new Qom Chilom is definitely unique with its notes of sour Morello cherries, black latex, smoke, almonds, oud, heliotrope, and more.) Still, Black Gemstone feels more approachable to me, and I love how polished it feels. Amber orientals aren’t a category that I would usually classify as “chic,” but Black Gemstone is definitely chic to me.

In short, if you’re looking for a very complex but elegant oriental fragrance, I strongly recommend that you give Black Gemstone a sniff. It’s a black beauty with a rich golden heart.

Disclosure: Perfume sample courtesy of Stéphane Humbert Lucas. That did not influence this review. I do not do paid reviews, and my opinions are my own.

DETAILS:
Cost & Availability: Black Gemstone is an Extrait or pure parfum that is only available in a 50 ml bottle and costs €235. The 777 line will be at Luckyscent and Osswald NYC by the end of April. [Update 5/2/14 — Osswald has received the entire 777 line. It sells Black Gemstone for $309.] Outside the U.S.: Currently, the SHL 777 website is under construction, and doesn’t have an e-store. The best online resource is First in Fragrance which just received the complete SHL 777 line, including the new 2014 releases. It offers a sample of Black Gemstone for €14. In London, you can find the entire collection at Harrod’s Black Room, while in Paris, they are exclusive to Printemps under the name 777. Zurich’s Osswald also carries the line, but I don’t think they have an e-store any more. The Swiss perfumery, Theodora, also has SHL 777, but no e-store. In Cannes, France, the store Taizo is said to carry the 777 line, but I didn’t see the perfumes on their website the last time I checked. In the Middle East, Souq.com has about 6 of the earlier fragrances which it sells for AED 1,500. In the UAE, the SHL 777 line is available at Harvey Nichols and at Bloomingdales in the Dubai Mall. In Russia, SHL 777 is sold at Lenoma. Ukraine’s Sana Hunt Luxury store also carries the line, but they don’t have an e-store. Samples: None of the U.S. sample sites currently carry this fragrance, so Luckyscent and Osswald NYC will be your best option once the SHL 777 line is released. Osswald has changed its Sample Program such that individual pricing now depends on the cost of the particular perfume in question. They range from $3 a vial, up to $9 a vial for fragrances that cost over $300. The program is limited to U.S. customers and has free shipping, but there is also a 3-sample minimum, I believe. If you have questions, you can call Osswald at (212) 625-3111 to enquire further.

53 thoughts on “Stéphane Humbert Lucas 777 Black Gemstone: Black (Gold) Beauty

  1. Oh my goodness, this sounds wonderful. And the fact that you — YOU! — of all people could be at a loss of words to describe it makes it all that much more appealing to me. I love prismatic scents that take you on an adventure with each wear. This sounds delightfully complex, and I *will* try it. I hope the line eventually does a sample pack/program. 🙂 Of course, I could call MiN once the line is released but I have to get over my phone phobia to do that. LOL.

    • Thank you for your very kind words, Kevin. It means a lot, especially as writing this review almost killed me. Or maybe it was trying to find some of the photos. One of them took almost 2 hours to find, and I was starting to lose my mind. lol. Anyway, I think you’d really like this one, Kevin, as well as O Hira. God, O Hira is so spectacular.

      As for Osswald, you don’t have to call. You can place the order via the website link I provided, once the perfumes hit the store which should be in a day or so. You just go to the sample page on Osswald (not Min), and select the applicable price (ie, around $6 for 2 ml or so of Black Gemstone, I think, since it’s a perfume that should be under $300 in overall cost). Then, in the “Note” box, you type in the name of the perfume that you want. 3 sample minimum, but free shipping and it’s very fast, too. Pay, and you’re done. No phone call required.

  2. Sounds yummy. And, by comparison to OHira, a “bargain”! For this fellow’s fragrances, I go to the last paragraph of the review first.

    Anyway, must try.

    • I choked on my coffee at your comment. I don’t know what is more amusing, the fact that you start with the pricing information paragraph at the end or how Black Gemstone is a “bargain.” ROFL. Actually, Khol de Bahrein is a positive steal at the truly “bargain” basement price of about $200 (if one likes iris and heliotrope, that is), while this one is in the next category up. But yes, as compared to O Hira, almost everything is a bargain. *grin* O Hira is truly magnificent though. I mean, really! But the price makes it a fantasy more than anything else.

      Black Gemstone is much more reasonable, and given all the factors from Pure Parfum Extrait to complexity, longevity, and the rest, I think it’s worth it. I hope you try it, James, because I think you’d very much enjoy it.

  3. Before I even got to the final photographs, I knew that you were describing a masterpiece in nuance. All of the elements you noticed sound so lovely, and the fact that they wax and wane in a single or multiple wearings is enough to seduce this reader. Of course the ingredients are right up my alley, and I am sure many many other readers. As soon as I finished reading, I went over to Luckyscent to see if I could order some, but not quite yet. Thank you, Kafka for a beautiful review. I think you Did accomplish a description that tells us what a beauty this is…

    • Thank you, sweetie. It was a frustrating experience trying to explain everything that was happening on my skin, especially as many of the layers transition seamlessly into the next and/or are very subtle. I’m glad I could give you a sense of at least PART of what Black Gemstone smells like to me. I hope you try this one, as well as O Hira. The latter may be unbelievably expensive, but as an amber fiend, I think it would do for you what Roja Dove’s jammy, fruited rose Amber Aoud never did. You’d go bonkers for O Hira, I think. I hope Luckyscent does a sample pack of the line, because I think you’d find them all to be very interesting and/or refined. (Well, not the Generation duo, but the rest.)

  4. The perfect image of a perfume for me: black and gold. Now my mind has butterflies in its stomach. Then you add saffron to that perfect picture and my brain gets aroused. I need to get a sample of this to take with me to the cold south of this long America because I don’t want to be haunted by your description, dear Kafka, once I am far far away.
    That wood. I need that wood and the oiled, honeyed saffron, myrrh, smoky, velvety amber mixture too. All I am left to do here is to drool all over my keyboard and fantasize about this wooden monster you describe. Is it nuts to say that I am already imagining my huge fat black scarf smelling of this?
    I am happy! Now out to face the cold, rainy apple.
    Great review K. Excellent! It made my morning.

    • This one has your name written all over it, WeFadeToGrey. Hopefully, OsswaldNYC will release the fragrances on May 1st or thereabouts, because I believe they’ve already received their shipment. So go to Osswald this weekend and test them out! 🙂

      • I looked on luckyscent and they are not carrying the line just yet nor is Osswald. I just wrote to them asking when it will be there and if they will sell samples. I am leaving in less than 2 weeks and I will die if I cannot take some of this with me. O Hira is also beckoning me.

        • I know Osswald received the fragrances earlier this week, as they were testing them for themselves, and Clement (the manager) told me yesterday that he was getting ready to post them “any moment now.” So, I had thought they would be up on the website by today, but apparently not. If you stop by this weekend, they should definitely be there, though. Give them a call to check beforehand: 212-625-3111.

  5. Have just updated my lemming status and order a 10 ml decant of this one. It certainly is wonderful reading, Kafka, when you review a fragrance, but mind-blowing when you love a fragrance. Looking forward to trying this one out!

    • I’m so glad, my dear. I hope you will consider ordering a sample of O Hira, too. Perhaps not a large 10 ml decant, but if you can get your hands on a sample, I hope you will try. It’s such an amazing, magnificent, baroque and over-the-top amber. I know the price is insane, but I think it’s worth sniffing at the very least. Either way, I hope you’ll let me know what you think of Black Gemstone when you get your decant.

      • You certainly aren’t making this easy! 🙂 There is a split for O Hira now as well. It’s $75 for 5 ml – but I’m having trouble pulling the trigger on this. I’ll have to go read your review one more time – another shot of Kafka Courage!

        I think your use of the word, baroque, is a game changer for me, though. You described Chypre Palatin that way as well and it’s become one of my favorites. Sigh. All these fragrances are so expensive I need to recover the Amber Room in order to pay them.

        • Oh, I’m so happy to hear that you love the Chypre Palatin! Wonderful. I know you smell fantastic. As for O Hira, well, you go discover the Amber Room, and I’ll look for the next King Tut’s tomb. Between us, perhaps we can find a way to afford the perfume. LOL. 😉

  6. I love this scent and by the way, it was created as a mystery connected to muslim holy place, Meca, the stone of Ibrahim(Abraham) where muslims make hajj!

    • Aah, we finally have a big love in common, Mark. 😉 lol. And how interesting about the name referring THAT black stone, the sacred Ka’bah. I hadn’t made the connection. I appreciate the added information and details, so thank you.

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  8. Dear Kafka, Frankincense, myrrh, and lemon- oh be still my heart! This absolutely sounds like a fragrance for me. I will start saving my paycheck. Your review was amazing as always.

    • I thought of you, Ellen, when trying this as I know how much you love your incense. But I was thinking of you also when I wrote that it would be misleading to emphasize the incense aspect of this fragrance. It’s definitely there, but there is so much else going on as well. As a whole, Black Gemstone is NOT a purely incense fragrance. Not by any means. It is only one aspect of about 5 main elements. I know you like pure incense fragrances, but I wouldn’t want you to be misled.

  9. Well this one certainly sounds delectable! All the notes are ones I love and the eucalyptus sounds like a master stroke.I enjoy when a perfume has a singular unique note added to the mix.And the price is approaching Amouage territory the “Amouage line” if you will.I’ve never had a problem shelling out for Amouage fragrances because of the high quality of the materials and the longevity of the scent.And as an extrait it sounds like you wouldn’t need much and the lasting power is excellent.So I will make my way down to Osswald to give these a try as soon as they come out.I also found out Twisted Lily now carries Masque Milano so I’ll hop the bridge to Brooklyn to try the line.I especially want to try Montecristo.Have you tried the new Masque Milano Tango? As always your writing is unparalleled and this one literally made me drool.I’m starting to get a Pavlovian response to your reviews.I think I’m going to need a bib when I read them from hereon out ;)-Robert

    • You’re so sweet, Robert, and I’m so glad you found me and the blog. The bib part made me laugh. You know, Osswald received these early this week, I think, as they were testing them out and Clement told me yesterday that they were going to post them any minute now. That was yesterday, so I thought they would be up on the website by now. Alas, no. But they should definitely be in store if you go to Osswald this weekend.

      While you’re there, will you do me a favour and try Hard Leather from the LM Parfums line? (Also, Black Oud may interest you.) I don’t know how you feel about leather or animalic notes, but given your love for Mysore sandalwood, I’d love for you to get a little vial of Hard Leather to test at home. Please, do NOT go by what is on the testing strip. That is terribly misleading in general, imo, but particularly so for Hard Leather. Try it on the skin, and please, wait 15 minutes. On some people, the opening 15 minutes is… er…. tough. But after that…. Give it a try, even if it is only for the Mysore drydown. Hard Leather remains my favorite modern, new perfume in years. You may also like Black Oud, especially if you were ever interested in Puredistance’s Black. (The latter is .. er…. well, never mind. Hm.)

      As for Twisted Lily, I’m glad you’re going there. I’ll be interested to see what you think of Montecristo, especially if you have no problems with Hard Leather. Two animalic greats, imo. I haven’t tried Tango yet, but I hope to soon.

      Oh, speaking of new fragrances and Osswald, while you’re there, keep an eye out for the new Tola line from Dubai. I received samples of the full line, thanks to the kindness of Clement (the Osswald manager), so I’ll be covering those soon. And do let me know what you think of the fragrances you sniff whilst there. I’m looking forward to your report. 🙂

  10. Oh My God… This sounds exaclty like Creation of Universe
    Wonderful, Amazing, Powerful…. The concept you have created with your review is just unique…
    I have enjoyed it so much, my nose will test this one TODAY
    Thank you

    • Welcome to the blog, Leila. I’m very glad you enjoyed the review. And I hope Black Gemstone appeals to you when you try it. 🙂

  11. What a review ! I’m very happy I ordered a sample of this one too ! Now, I’m a big fan of hesperidic notes in parfume, but lemon with incense is not the combination that I’d think of first. I’m in ususal also careful with honey – it can be ridiculous on my skin and there has been only one parfum sofar where I really loved that dreaded note (Viktoria Minya’s Hedonist). All sounds pretty misterious and I’m very curious about the story Black Gemstone has for me …

    • I’m so glad you ordered a sample of this one as well, Mi’Lady. I’m looking forward to hearing what you think of it. As for Hedonist, it’s super, isn’t it? Such a beautiful fragrance. (And let’s not start on that fantastic bottle. Lust-worthy!) Interesting about you and honey. I will remember that. I think honey is actually one of the trickiest notes in perfumery. It can go terribly wrong, depending on skin chemistry. I’m guessing Uncle Serge’s Miel de Bois is not for you…. 😉 LOL.

  12. I also ADORED your wonderful review of what sounds to be an alchemy, a mystery, a story unfolding, and YOU, the wearer, will tell the story, yet keep the chemistry a secret, and leave the story unfinished, so that we can each decide how it will end… And those who read your story will be wandering in your wake, saying, “DAMN, but she smelled A-MA-zing!!!! This goes on the “Need to Sample” list!!

    • Awww, thank you, my dear Lexi. You’re so sweet, and that is such high praise for a piece where it felt like such a struggle to express myself in any accurate fashion. Thank you for always being a bright spot in my day. And I do hope you’ll get to try Black Gemstone soon! xoxox

  13. Well, I finally got a few 777 samples and this was the first one I tried. It’s everything you said it is. AND, I’ve had it on for a good four hours and it’s still going strong, something that’s unusual for any scent on my skin that’s not got screaming sillage. Hurrah!! 🙂

    • Hurrah, indeed! I was so incredibly pleased to read your comment, Jules. Really chuffed! Black Gemstone seems to be too much for some, especially at the beginning, so I’m glad to hear that it works for you. Was it love at first sniff for you as well? Did the full development of the perfume continue to be as appealing as the first few hours?

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    • Woman, I’ve been waiting MONTHS to hear your reaction to this one! I just knew you’d love it. Just knew it. So completely up your alley. How was it on you? Did the hardcore smokiness of the start turn into something more patchouli-amber-golden on you? Also, did you find that one stage in Papillon’s Anubis had a tie/connection to Black Gemstone?

  19. well i finally got my hands on it, a 10ml decant, along with o hira (which i found rather underwhelming given the hype and the silly pricing; of the two i prefer BG) i’m surprised that i love the spiciness in this, along with a tingly myrrh that gives it an amouage feel. great call on its being ‘chic’, along with a citric heart that is hard to pin down…. this is where i first heard of it, and the extraordinary prose contained herein give the sense of struggling to shake down every nuance from a complex & beguiling construction. the photos so perfectly chosen to evocate your. interior space. you are without a doubt the premier fragrance critic that i know of on the planet (and i know 1or2 🙂 ) and me and your legions of fans are happy you’re back, looking forward to reviews of this quality, if not length. less is more 😉 knuffeltjes van holland xo

    • I’m so happy to hear that you love Black Gemstone, Tim, though not very surprised. How come *you* are surprised that you love the spiciness in it? That’s in your wheelhouse!

      I’m glad to hear that you found some of its aspects hard to pin down, too, because it can have a shifting nature from moment to moment in terms of the notes that wax and wane like the tides. I was also happy to hear that it came across as “chic” to you, too. I wonder what you’d think of the ones like Oumma or the Oud 777. Given your love for Zafar, the latter might be interesting to you, if only to try. Hopefully, you can get a sample of that one down the road, because I think you’re one of the few people who would truly appreciate the 0ud 777.

      With regard to O Hira, I think the pricing impacts one’s perceptions of it — for good or for bad — just as it does in the case of scents like Roja Dove’s Diaghilev (or Numa). When things are priced THAT high, it’s easier to feel underwhelmed, whether consciously or subconsciously. One simply has higher expectations, and quite rightly, too. The pricing for O Hira is too much, in my opinion, just as it is for Diaghilev, but it really comes down to a personal valuation in both cases. You found the Diaghilev to be worth it, but not the O Hira. I completely and totally understand that, my dear. It’s all so personal, and price becomes inextricably tied into how good something we find something to be. As you know, I found Diaghilev to underwhelm, but not the Numa or O Hira.

      Yet, ALL of them are priced too high, in my opinion. Is that because they’re outside my budget and I’m not a Russian oligarch? Absolutely. Would I think differently if I were a wealthy Arab? I don’t know, but probably. Still, even if I were that wealthy, I’d get the Numa and O Hira, instead of the Diaghilev, while you would undoubtedly just stock up on Diaghilev (and Zafar) til kingdom come. LOL. *grin*

      Thank you, though, for both the discussion, the honesty, and for letting me know your thoughts on both of them, my dear. I love hearing feedback on people’s experiences and how a fragrance seemed to them. One day, I’ll buy you a drink and we’ll both laugh about the increasingly ridiculous price structure that is taking over the perfume world for many, many fragrances!

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  21. This is an amazing review and it is an amazing perfume! I got a sample after reading this review and I fell in love with it straight away and bought a bottle straight away. I find it dark and mysterious as you describe. I love the combination of the lemon with the smoke. And what an amazing lemon it is. I have tried a number of the SHL 777 line and so many of them are amazing. I also bought Une Nuit a Doha and Soleil de Jedhah,

    • Hurrah! I’m so glad to hear that you love the SHL 777 as much as I do, as well as the fact that Black Gemstone is one of the fragrances that you fell for hard and straight away. That lemon note really is amazing, isn’t it? So far from the usual thing, almost like a thick, concrete, glowing entity, and it works so beautifully with the dark accords. I’m really happy I could inspire you to sample it, and that the end result worked so well for you.

  22. Hello,
    What an amazing blog. Congratulations! I have been wanting to find something totally different and this Gemstone sounds gorgeous. I have been the more mainstream client I suppose, but to say this, I wore Molecule way way before it was discovered by masses and I still love it, number 02 being favourite. I stumbled across your blog as I wanted to read about Tom Ford’s ‘mandarin concoction’ and now that I am more educated I will stick to tobacco vanilla that I still adore even though the prize is ridiculous. So, I’m taking the leap to the the unknown with Black Gemstone and see where it takes me. Writing this I just remembered my favourite scent from the beginning of the naughties- Kenzo Jungle–it takes me right back to a fresh buzz cut, obscure club called ‘Orange’ and Blur!
    Sincerely,

    Tomi N
    London, UK

    • Welcome, Tomi, and thank you for your kind words on the blog. I think Black Gemstone is extremely different from mainstream or designer scents, but I hope you enjoy it and find it appealing on your skin. 🙂

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  25. once again wearing my sample, and the emotions evoked continue to be strong…and…that lemon, that cedar, the smoke…all of it. At first I thought I would be too emotional to actually ever wear this, but on some days the nostalgia for the Sharjah Souk – the cedar and incense with the lemon…it’s that Souk in a bottle! (before they glassed it in and blasted it with airconditioner) it’s comforting…. I have asked my fiance that this bottle be my xmas gift (and no, I don’t need anything else with that, thank you 🙂

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